new economy Archives - Striven

Is Your Small Business Ready For The “New” Economy?

As states begin to re-open and businesses emerge into the somewhat filtered sunlight of a post-pandemic world will things be the same? The answer is no, at least for the short term.

By short term, I mean about six months to a year. That’s how long it’s likely going to take for consumers to feel 100 percent comfortable consuming again. That means eating, buying, traveling, playing, building, moving and spectating. It’s also how long it will take for many people to recover from the financial shock of not having a job and depleting their savings. It will take this long to have genuine, tested and trusted vaccines and treatments. It will also take this long for the memory of just how fragile and scary this world can be – and how easily it can fall apart – to fade enough so that people can once again have the confidence to freely spend money again.

Creating Your Game Plan

small business management team

If you’ve managed to survive this Great Suppression, then congratulations. You’ve done a few things right – more so than many of your counterparts who were not as fortunate. But as most of us who have run businesses for decades know, you’re only good as the last thing you do. Now you face the next challenge: navigating and even growing your business over the next six months to a year in this different environment. So what’s the game plan?

For starters, you’re going to make sure you’re operating a very, very safe business. Safe for your workforce and for your customers. You’ll do this not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because not doing so will cost you future business, employees and may even expose you to liabilities. So you’ll make sure that your workers are being regularly temperature checked. You’ll procure diagnostic tests and ask everyone to get tested (What if someone doesn’t want to? There’s no straight answer to that, so give it some thought.). You’ll want hand sanitizers, gloves and disinfectant everywhere. You’ll pay close attention to new guidance from OSHA and CDC. You’ll practice social distancing, require masks and limit meetings. You’ll have a cleaning schedule. You have to make your place of business spotless and you’ll hang signs everywhere informing every visitor of your actions (and theirs) to do so.

Next, you’ll let your people work from home. You’ve realized that this is not only feasible, but in some cases (surprisingly, I bet) more productive than before. You’ll invest in all the cloud technologies your business needs to ensure that your employees can do their jobs remotely. You’ll become more flexible and understanding of some of your employees’ fears of returning to work. You’ll also need to be firm. You’ll create written work from home policies to which both you and workers will agree. You’ll pay to upgrade your company’s IT security, hire more trainers and upgrade to better, faster and more productive cloud-based software. 

small business software challenges

You’ll start slow. You will take this current time to truly understand your overhead and what costs will be incurred to re-start, even with a skeleton staff. You’ll make hard estimates – based on prior data – about your future revenues and you’ll have to make tough decisions. Maybe you’ll phase in your re-opening until sales build. Maybe you’ll stay shut through the summer. Maybe you’ll re-launch with gusto.  All of this will depend on your fixed and variable cost infrastructure. Your taxes may not be due until July 15 but now’s a great time to talk to your accountant about this.

Your New Opportunities

You’ll take a few chances.  If you’ve emerged from this downturn with a few extra dollars still in the bank, you may consider taking advantage of the new market. There will be equipment up for sale and property to buy from other businesses who are in more desperate need. There will be competitors that will fold, and their customers will need your help. There will be older business owners who – exhausted by the latest “unprecedented” downturn – will be looking to exit and sell their companies. There will be talented workers that suddenly find themselves without jobs who you can snatch up and put to productive use. There will be financing at low interest rates. You’ve just emerged from another Darwin-moment, and you’re still around. Congratulations. Now take a few chances.

Finally, you’ll have learned a very important lesson. When you think back about this experience you’ll realize why you survived when many didn’t. Simply…you had cash. Maybe it was in the bank. Maybe it was credit availability. Maybe it was your ability to stop overhead altogether. But it’s all cash. The businesses that have enough cash are the ones that can weather even the worst downturns. So going forward you’ll do whatever it was that you did to do the same. Even when times are good – and they’ll be good again – you won’t overspend. You won’t be frivolous with your money. Of course, you’ll invest where you see the returns are substantial and probable. But you’ll always be conservative and frugal. That’s probably how you got here. That’s probably why you’re still here.

So the new economy is upon us. It won’t last that long. It’ll soon be back to the same economy that’s driven businesses for thousands of years. But during the next six to twelve months your job is to adapt. You’ve done a great job so far. But your job isn’t over. When you run a small business it never is.